One of NASA’s gigantic rocket transport crawlers was put back into service November 16, delivering a mobile launch tower and platform (ML) to launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center. The ML will serve as a support structure for a future deep space vehicle called the Space Launch System (SLS).

The ML was originally constructed for the Constellation program that the Obama Administration canceled last year.  The platform will now be modified extensively to support the SLS program.  SLS will consist of a mammoth rocket sysytem that will deliver astronauts beyond earth orbit to possibly the moon, large asteroids, and one day Mars. 

The ML is similar in concept to the original versions that were built for the Apollo program.  Upper stage engines on the new spacecraft will also be derived from Apollo-era designs.

This is only the second time this ML has ever been moved since it was built. The first time was only a few hundred feet from the location where it was built to the site where it has sat for the last couple years.

Today’s move brought the tower approximately 4.8 miles to pad 39B where NASA recently completed demolishing space shuttle specific infrastructure.  The trip took approximately 9 and a half hours.  It will remain on the the pad until November 29 undergoing tests.  Upon completion the crawler will pick it up and bring it back to its original position. 

Watch Jay’s video of the move: